Thoughts About Retirement
Actually, I've been telling people for years that I'm a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman because it's true and because it's preferable to admitting that I've spent the third quarter of this life shuffling papers for a medical management company. It's not like working for the IRS and it's paid the bills, but there is not much fulfillment from it. In the past four years I have made choices that have kept me from leaving this job and California, but almost certainly in 2009...
You'd have no reason to remember that back when Ronni was choosing between Portland, ME, and Portland, OR, I was trying to use logic to decide where I wanted to land when I retired (because I really have no roots anywhere). I drew a little circle around the area between Asheville, NC, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but it turns out that thousands of other retirees were drawing similar circles on their maps at about the same time, many of whom have already moved there. The idea of getting a Class C motorhome and living a more nomadic life has suffered a critical $4/gallon setback.
I've thought a lot about how I want to live the fourth quarter of this life. (It amuses me to refer to this time as the fourth quarter of my life although no male Babb has celebrated his 70th birthday since my great-great-grandfather.) When I leave here I'll have sufficient means to subsist which I recognize as a blessing; so my goal is to do work that is fulfilling... work that matters. I miss that from the second quarter. Toward that end, I've been volunteering with Red Cross Disaster Services for the past several months, and I have to say that is really working for me so far: I'm going out on local disaster calls (house and apartment fires so far), I can drive the ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle), and they're letting me train other volunteers in Disaster Services. That's like a fulfillment trifecta.
If I could find paying work that is at least as worthwhile as what I'm doing with the Red Cross, I'd sure consider it. My dream job would be to go back to school to become a Physician Assistant because I miss patient care a lot, but at this point I'd have to start from scratch. I'm up for that, but who gives student loans to guys in their 60s? Advocating for returning military wounded sings to me, but I'm not sure that working with the Veterans Administration bureaucracy does. We'll see.
Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. - Henry David Thoreau